FILE PHOTO: MSC Isabella at the Port of Los Angeles. Photo courtesy Port of Los Angeles

COVID Restocking Surge Continues at Port of Los Angeles

Mike Schuler
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December 16, 2020

The Port of Los Angeles reports that November cargo volumes were up more than 20 percent compared to last year on a combination of increased consumer spending, holiday shipments and replenishment of warehouse inventories, resulting in another unprecedented month for the nation’s busiest port.

The Port’s Executive Director Gene Seroka released the latest monthly figures on Tuesday, revealing that Port of Los Angeles processed 889,746 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) in November for an increase of 22% compared to November 2019.

Year-to-date, overall cargo volume is 3% lower compared to 2019. Due to early impacts from the pandemic, the first five months of 2020 cargo had plummeted nearly 19% compared to last year. Since then, however, imports from Asia have come roaring back at a record pace. U.S. exports are a different story; they have decreased 23 of the last 25 months, according to the Port.

“Since August, monthly cargo volume has averaged almost 930,000 TEUs,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. “It’s unusual to see this kind of import activity this late in the year. But 2020 has been anything but normal.

November loaded imports reached 464,820 TEUs compared to compared to 371,350 TEUs in November 2019. Loaded exports decreased 5.5% to 130,917 TEUs. Empty containers, heavily in demand in Asia, increased 34.2% compared to November 2019, reaching 294,010 TEUs.

Eighty eight cargo vessels arrived in November, including nine extra loaders. There were no canceled sailings.

“With consumers continuing to stay at home and purchase goods rather than services, we expect robust activity on our docks to continue for at least several months,” Seroka added. “To help stakeholders manage the cargo influx, the Port has introduced new data tools for asset planning, provided additional land for chassis and containers, and is working with cargo owners large and small to prioritize their shipments.”

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